Each year we look forward to changing something in an attempt to better ourselves in the coming twelve months. You and I know that if we had a quarter for all the broken Resolutions, we could probably challenge Mr. Buffett for his spot on the Forbes list.
Here is something that I wrote over ten years ago, that still rings as true as the New Years Bells.
Refresh, Renew, or Repeat
Happy New Year! This is the time of the year for renewal; starting over; turning over a new leaf, etc. etc. It is generally a festive and happy time. A time for clearing out the attic of our minds and flushing out the sludge of the year gone by. Out with the old; in with the new. “We’re really gonna get ‘em this year!” But before the euphoria gets nauseous, lets take a look at what a new year really means to us.
Most of us have a refresh button on our PC keyboard that we can hit when the website or whatever else we are loading doesn’t quite look right. Kind of a “start all over” key!
I usually use it with a certain amount of impatience when something that I am looking for either loads too slowly or appears incomplete. Nine times out of ten, the second attempt doesn’t come out any darn better than the first. It took me a while to figure out that unless I changed something, the result is not going to be a whole lot different. But I got that now! If you are saying: “Dick, get to the point!” you just missed it!
Now if you had a great year in 2012 and things just kept getting better and better, Please don’t change a thing. As a matter of fact, stop reading right now and turn the page. I certainly don’t want to be fiddling with anything that isn’t busted! But most of us would like this next year to be a bit better than the last. That’s the way life works, whether we are talking about our business lives or our personal lives. But if you expect improvements in 2013, you had better take a look and see what changes you can make now.
A great number of us are accustomed to making New Year’s resolutions each and every year. This is our way of drawing up a plan for a better life. If you haven’t already, it is time to write your New Year’s Resolutions for your professional life. An updated business plan! New marketing programs! Continuing education! These things will all contribute to a refreshed campaign toward increased productivity and profitability for you, your department and your dealership. But without a plan; without resolution; you will be like a sailing ship without a rudder. You will just wallow about and go wherever the wind takes you. If you don’t know where you are going and have a plan or map to guide you, how can you ever decide in which direction to begin?
Make a new business plan. Decide exactly how many deliveries and or profits that you want to achieve in the year 2013. Then allocate those numbers on a monthly basis. Now (and be honest with yourself) calculate just how many workable prospects you will need and how many suspects you will have to attract to achieve those goals. The numbers are pretty easy to work out. And be honest with yourself. A kick-ass business plan may make you the star in a planning meeting, but remember you are going to be tied to that sucker for the next twelve months. It had better be achievable! After you know what you need to do, it is time to plan exactly how you are going to attract these prospects. Your advertising campaign! Print or media advertising! Direct mail! Internet! Plan your advertising budget and program for the year. Without a plan, it is way too easy to get off track and spend your budget early in the year. That will undoubtedly make the first half of the year a bonanza, but how happy are you and your management going to be when the money runs out and the last half of the year is a bust? Finding extra money, at the eleventh hour, for advertising in these tight fiscal times, is just about as easy as nailing Jell-O to a wall. As the old saying goes, Plan your work and work your plan!
Let’s talk a minute about continuing education. I know, we are talking about good old sales training. But the term “sales training” seems to rankle some folks and turn others completely deaf. So let’s you and I copy the teaching or nursing professions, for example, and call it continuing education. Forget the fact that you should have had some education initially in order to continue it; we need to continually sharpen our skills. Many corporations brag that they provide up to 100 hours of training for their employees each and every year. That is the equivalent, for those of you who are mathematically challenged, of two and a half weeks a year. How does that stack up to what your continuing education program looked like last year? If you are like the majority of us, you didn’t come even close. Why not? Well, there are plenty of reasons not the least of which is; when we are away we are not making any money. But chances are pretty good that you are planning a vacation so why not plan in some time for education? Instead of allocating your planned annual production to 50 weeks next year, try allocating it to 49 instead. If you use that week for continuing education, you will be able to work smarter and you probably won’t have to work any harder. Leaf towards the back of this magazine and look for the calendar of upcoming events. Find a training program and make a commitment. Don’t just put it on your calendar. Call and register. Call the airlines and buy a ticket. You’ll save money by ticketing in advance. Make a commitment now because it will be way too easy to waffle, as the date gets closer.
Okay, so most of this stuff is just a rehash of the same sermons you heard last year. But most of you are just like my kids; “How many times do I have to tell you. . . . . .?” You didn’t listen all that well last year so here it is again this year.
If you are happy with what you accomplished in 2012, please just photocopy your last year’s business plan and re-title it 2013! But if you want to make improvements in your production or profitability (as in make more money) you need to refresh your skills, renew your commitment to Special Finance and draw yourself a road map or plan to guide you to your goals. Without those commitments you are bound to just repeat last year. And you know what, most things are never quite as good the second time around.
Commit and your increased commissions should Finance a Very Special New Year!
Just my two cents worth.
About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960. Dick is National Sales Director for VOISYS. He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog. Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.